Winifred Lamb

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Winifred Lamb (1894-1963) was a British art historian, archeologist, and museum curator who specialised in Greek, Roman, Anatolian cultures and artifacts. The bulk of her career was spent as the Honorary Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum from 1918 - 1958.[1] She was the first female archeologist involved in the British Anatolian excavations,[2] and the Fitzwilliam museum states that she was a "generous benefactor and raising the profile of the collections through groundbreaking research, acquisitions and publications."[3]


The daughter of Edmund Lamb, a former Member of Parliament, and Mabel Lamb, Winifred Lamb attended Newnham College of Cambridge University, studying Classics, and earning her degree in 1917. She joined the British Naval Intelligence Department and served throughout World War I. It was here that Lamb met John Beazley, a renowned archeologist also working in British Intelligence, who encouraged her in her research.[4] Her fieldwork and excavation skills were honed at the British School at Athens, which she began attending in 1920.[5] Lamb took part in excavations in Mycenae, Sparta, and Macedonia.

Following her work in Macedonia, Lamb had started to consider the link between the southern Balkans, the northern Aegean, and northwest Anatolia; her search led her to Lesbos, where in 1928 she identified the site of Thermi. She led her own excavation on this site from 1929 - 1933. She visited the archaeological excavation of Troy in 1930 and 1932, which inspired further work, allowing her to associate Thermi towns IV and V with Troy IIa. She gave a lecture, expanding on these views, as part of the 1936 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts on British Archaeological Discoveries in Greece and Crete 1886 - 1936.[6]

After this, she turned her attention to Ankara where, despite the problems for women working in Turkey at this time, other female archaeologists, including Gertrude Bell, Margaret Hardie, and Dorothy Lamb had excavated before the war.[7] She excavated at Kusura in 1936 and 1937, and gave a lecture to the Society of Antiquaries in London on recent developments in the pre-history of Anatolia in 1937. Her interest in the area eventually helped establish the British Institute of Archeology at Ankara.[8] She served as honorary secretary from 1948 - 1957.

Lamb felt that more excavation was required in Anatolia, but her work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. In 1941 she joined the Greek language service of the BBC, and from 1942 to 1946 worked for the Turkish section of the Near Eastern department of the BBC. Towards the end of the war she was seriously injured when a V2 rocket hit her lodgings in north London, killing her housemates. She continued her work for the Fitzwilliam Museum until 1958, making it one of the leading Classical collections in Britain, and died seven years after her retirement to Borden Wood.

She is the author of numerous books on Greek and Roman antiquities, including the 1929 publication Greek and Roman Bronzes, which was standard reading for studies on the subject.[9] She also wrote a number of reviews for the Journal of Hellenic Studies.


  1. ^ Fitzwilliam Museum Antiquities
  2. ^ Dictionary of Art Historians
  3. ^ Fitzwilliam Museum Antiquities
  4. ^ Dictionary of Art Historians
  5. ^ David W. J. Gill. Anatolian Studies. Vol. 50, (2000)Preview
  6. '^ David W. J. Gill, A Rich and Promising Site': Winifred Lamb (1894 - 1963), Kusura and Anatolian archaeology in Anatolian Studies, Vol 50 (2000) pp1-10
  7. '^ David W. J. Gill, A Rich and Promising Site': Winifred Lamb (1894 - 1963), Kusura and Anatolian archaeology in Anatolian Studies, Vol 50 (2000) pp1-10
  8. ^ Getzel M. Cohen, Martha Sharp Joukowsky. Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists. University of Michigan 2004.
  9. ^ Dictionary of Art Historians